Working at a finance institution owned by his father in-law, Phil Eastwood (Chris Cooper), Mitchell deals with intangible objects everyday. Often he doesn’t pay attention to things that are said or done unless they pertain to his profession.
While at the hospital after the car crash, Mitchell attempts to purchase peanut butter chocolate M&Ms and they don’t fully come out from the spiral contraption in the vending machine. Obviously this would annoy anyone. That moment when your candy is stuck. You feel stuck.
Following up on the incident, Mitchell mails a series of complaint letters or personal admissions to the vending machine company. Along the way, a friendship develops with a customer service agent, Karen Moreno (Naomi Watts) through spending time together. Often writing can help people to express themselves when dealing with grief.
After losing his wife, Mitchell begins to open his eyes. Speaking with his father in-law, he can’t grasp the type of love lost. Phil says over a glass of whisky, “Losing a wife, you’re a widower. Losing a parent, you’re an orphan. Losing a child, there’s no word to describe it. And there shouldn’t be.” Viewers connect to the raw emotion portrayed and how feelings can be in different types of relationships.
On Mitchell’s path of destruction, he encounters tangible items and takes them apart to find out what’s inside. From a squeaky bathroom stall and work computer to his immaculately glass designed house, he explores demolishing through construction tactics. Memories begin to fill his mind from childhood during playground running antics.
Soon Mitchell befriends Moreno’s son, Chris (Judah Lewis). Together and apart, they discover what it means to be yourself in forms of self identity, grooming and taking responsibility. Towards the end of the film, viewers can see despite the challenges one may face, it’s important to keep going in life like a carousel.